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What ARE they? Huge airport characters baffle travellers

June 7, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Travellers passing through one of the world’s big airport hubs are pausing to gape and take selfies beside a colossal, canary-yellow teddy bear with its head stuck in a lamp, and a giant wooden humanoid figure, perhaps 10 metres tall, resembling Pinocchio with koala ears.

Passengers from every part of the world can be seen scratching their heads and taking selfies beside the huge figures at Doha’s Hamad International Airport in Qatar.

“What IS it?” was the most frequent question in English last week. Chinese travellers, and those from other countries, appeared to be asking the same question in their own languages.

I took the photos and then hunted down the answers.

Both figures are artworks. The giant teddy bear, seven metres tall, is “Lamp Bear” by Swiss artist Urs Fischer. It stands in the airport’s duty-free hall.

The bright yellow teddy bear is, believe it or not, sculpted from bronze, and its head sits peacefully inside a lamp. “A playful piece”, apparently, “that humanises the space around it and reminds travellers of childhood or precious objects from home.”

Indeed.

Lamp Bear. Good selfie material. Photo by Peter Needham

The Urs Fischer teddy sculpture, which weighs almost 16 tonnes, was previously displayed in front of the Seagram Building on New York’s Park Avenue. It was auctioned off at Christie’s New York for USD 6.8 million, reportedly bought by a member of Qatar’s royal family.

Now for the huge Pinocchio-esque figure of polished wood, with frilly ears and Xs for eyes. That’s another sculpture. It’s by American artist Brian Donnelly, also known as Kaws, and is located near the airport’s Concourse E.

Small Lie. Photo by Peter Needham

 

Small Lie, as it’s called, is the latest addition to the airport’s collection of more than 20 permanent pieces created by local and international artists.

Small Lie is huge.

Sideways view of Small Lie. Photo by Peter Needham

Hamad airport chief executive, Badr Mohammed Al Meer, says: “The airport’s space for public art is truly redefining the passenger experience. Small Lie is a monumental art piece. Our operations team had to dismantle the airport façade at concourse D to handle the crates and we worked on the technical installation for several weeks.”

Written by Peter Needham

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